White vs Black Rhino: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. White rhinoceros, also known as the square-lipped rhinoceros, is one of the five existing species of rhinoceros and is native to Africa.
  2. The black rhinoceros, also known as the hook-lipped rhinoceros, is native to eastern and southern Africa.
  3. White rhinos are more engaging, while black rhinos are solitary by nature.

What are White Rhinos?

The white rhino is the largest species of rhinoceros, with males weighing between 4000 to 6000 pounds and measuring around 12 or 13 feet in length. White rhinos primarily inhabit grasslands, savannas, open woodlands and eastern Africa. Historically, they were found in many countries, including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.  

White rhinos are considered social and can be found in a small group known as ‘crashes’ or ‘herds’ consisting of females and their offspring. They are herbivores and graze on grasses, using their broad lips to crop the vegetation near the ground. These massive animals have poor eyesight but possess an acute sense of smell and hearing, which they rely on for communication and detecting potential dangers,

The white rhino has several distinct adaptations that suit its environment well. Its square-shaped lips are perfectly designed for grazing on grass, while its broad flat snout allows it to browse for food quickly. The horns in a white rhino are made of keratin, the same material as human hair and nails, and are used for defence, territorial battles and courtship display.

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White rhinos play a vital role in their ecosystem as grazers, helping shape and maintain grassland vegetation structure.

What are Black Rhinos?

Black rhinos are known for their distinctive hooked upper lip, which they use to browse for food. They have a prehensile lip that allows them to grasp and pull leaves and branches; they have two large horns made of keratin, with the front horn longer and averaging around 50 centimetres. Adult males can weigh between 800 and 1400 kilograms, while females are slightly smaller.

Black rhinos are primarily found in savannahs, woodlands, and tropical bush areas. They prefer habitats with dense vegetation that provides them with cover and browsing opportunities. Black rhinos are herbivores with a specialized diet. They mainly feed on various plants’ branches, leaves, shoots and fruits. Their lips are adapted to select and pluck specific vegetation and have a unique browsing technique.

The black rhino is critically endangered, with populations declining primarily due to poaching for their horns and habitat loss. Some cultures highly value their horns for their supposed medicinal properties and status symbols. 

Difference Between White and Black Rhino

  1. A white rhino weighs up to 5000 pounds, while a black rhino weighs up to 3000 pounds.
  2. The white rhino has a square-shaped lip, adapted for grazing on grass, while the black rhino has a hooked lip, allowing it to browse on leaves and twigs.
  3. White rhinos are more friendly and tend to form groups known as ‘crashes’, while black rhinos are more solitary by nature.
  4. The white rhino primarily inhabits grassy savannas and open plains, while the black rhino is more adaptable to different habitats, including dense forests, bushlands and savannas.
  5. The skin of a white rhino appears more greyish, while the black rhino’s skin is darker, ranging from brown to black.
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Comparison Between White and Black Rhino

Parameters of ComparisonWhite RhinoBlack Rhino
Weight Up to 5000 poundsUp to 3000 pounds
Mouth shapeSquare-shaped lip to graze grassHooked lip to browse on lips and twigs
Social behaviourMore sociableMore solitary
HabitatGrassy savannas and open plainsDense forests, bushlands and savannas
SkinGrayish Brown to black
  1. http://koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/view/426
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/zoo.10028

Last Updated : 19 August, 2023

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